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Google Addresses H.264 Stance, Says WebM (VP8) Plugins for Safari and IE9 Coming Soon!

Earlier this week, Google posted a big change “they were dropping support for the H.264 codec in Chrome.” The post generated a lot of discussion regarding upcoming changes to HTML video codec support in Chrome. As a result, Google today addressed some of the questions raised:

Fist and formost, Why is that? Google says:

[…]Firefox and Opera support the open WebM and Ogg Theora codecs and willn’t support H.264 due to its licensing requirements; Safari and IE9 support H.264. With this status quo, all publishers and developers using the <video> tag will be forced to support multiple formats.[…]

The Flash will continue to reign supreme in web video, here’s what Google says:

H.264 plays an important role in video and the vast majority of the H.264 videos on the web today are viewed in plug-ins such as Flash and Silverlight. These plug-ins are and will continue to be supported in Chrome. Our announcement was only related to the <video> tag, which’s part of the emerging HTML platform. While the HTML video platform offers great promise, few sites use it today and therefore few users will be immediately impacted by this change.

Finally, the point of all of this H.264/WebM stuff is so that the web can shift to an HTML5 video standard <video> tag going forward. Of course, since neither IE nor Safari will support Google’s, Mozilla’s, and Opera’s preferred codec for that standard, we’re right back to plugin land! Here’s Google:

Bottom line, we are at an impasse in the evolution of HTML video. Having no baseline codec in the HTML specification is far from ideal. This is why we’re joining others in the community to invest in WebM and encouraging every browser vendor to adopt it for the emerging HTML video platform (the WebM Project team will soon release plugins that enable WebM support in Safari and IE9 via the HTML standard <video> tag).

Note: Safari and IE9 plug-ins to be released by the WebM Project Team enable WebM playback via the HTML standard <video> tag canPlayType interface and not an alternate non-standard method.



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